U.K. Police Make Arrests in West London Manhunt

A Special Services officer gets out of a vehicle near the Peabody estate in north Kensington.

A Special Services officer gets out of a vehicle near the Peabody estate in north Kensington, west London, July 29, 2005. Reuters hide caption

itoggle caption Reuters

Police continue the hunt for suspected bombers of the city's transit system on July 21. Five arrests have been made, according to police. British media say two of the men arrested are suspected of carrying out last week's subway and bus bombings.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And going now to London and the latest in the investigation of the bombing there, police have been conducting operations across the city today as the hunt continues for the suspected bombers of the city's transit system. The biggest operation is in the upscale Notting Hill neighborhood, where heavily armed officers have surrounded an apartment complex. London's police chief has said law enforcement is in a race against time to prevent any further terrorist attacks. And joining me now from London is NPR's Anthony Kuhn.

Anthony, this sounds pretty dramatic.

ANTHONY KUHN reporting:

Yes, well, we've got situations going on in several locations across London. The first thing came in just after noon local time when Scotland Yard confirmed that they had a significant police operation under way in West London at two locations. Since then we've also heard about two women being arrested at the Liverpool Street station and that station being closed down, and another raid in Hackney in east London. And so far, the BBC and Sky TV are reporting that in these raids the police have apprehended two of the remaining three suspects who were still at large after last Thursday's bombings.

Now there was apparently a siege situation that went on for some time this morning in west London, and eyewitnesses there reported hearing explosions and police yelling at a suspect, apparently named Mohammed, to come out of his place. And we also saw footage of a person being escorted away from the scene in a forensic suit.

MONTAGNE: Well, can you describe more of the scene? I gather you have some tape there of one of these eyewitnesses.

KUHN: Well, yes, but let me just tell you, this was in the Notting Hill area off a place called Portobello Road, which is famous for its antique shops and open-air markets and cafes, and we were seeing images of TV footage of police with body armor and assault rifles and police marksmen on rooftops. And they closed off a lot of streets in that area. Now let's give a listen to this tape of the BBC talking on the phone to an eyewitness.

(Soundbite of BBC tape)

Mr. PAUL REDFERN (Eyewitness): He responded in the early stages, but now they're getting no response and they're saying, `You must come out. Take your clothes off. Come out with your hands on your head and you'll be all right.' Then they're saying, `Is anybody in there that's stopping you coming out?'

(Soundbite of explosion)

Mr. REDFERN: Ah! Explosion, just now. Did you hear it? That...

(Soundbite of explosion)

Mr. REDFERN: Now that sounds as if the police have--may...

(Soundbite of explosion)

Mr. REDFERN: Oh, my God. The police are breaking in.

(Soundbite of explosion)

KUHN: OK. That was Paul Redfern we were hearing speaking to the BBC, an eyewitness account that was in progress as the police action was going on.

MONTAGNE: Yeah. Well, we certainly did hear those explosions that he was wondering about. I--we understand the raids were going on for some time, but we only began getting news a short time ago. Why is that? How could that be?

KUHN: Well, that's right. The eyewitnesses said that the raids began round 9:30 this morning, London time, but we didn't start to hear about them until near 1, and that is because the police asked the media to black out or embargo the footage they were getting while some of the operations were ongoing. They asked the media not to show images of the ongoing action or to give sort of blow-by-blow coverage of what was going on. Some--you know, shortly after that, though, we have seen, you know, very clear images of police and their equipment, marksmen on rooftops, and we saw a suspect being led away with police covering his face with cardboard, so we were getting really very real-time information, which apparently the suspects could have used if they were watching TV.

MONTAGNE: And how does this operation in west London fit in with the overall investigation into the bombing attacks?

KUHN: Well, up till now, police had only gotten one--had only apprehended one suspect; that was Yasin Hassan Omar, and he's still being questioned. The people that BBC and Sky are saying were apprehended today were--included a man named Muqtar Said-Ibrahim, who is thought to be responsible for the attempted bombing of a No. 26 bus in east London, and another man, whose identity we don't yet know. So this appears to be--there appears to be one outstanding suspect still at large.

MONTAGNE: Thank you very much, NPR's Anthony Kuhn, speaking from London.

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